SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker is pushing legislation that would give parents the ability to find out if their kids' teachers are packing heat.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, would require teachers to inform principals if they bring concealed guns to schools. Under H.B. 389, parents could then go to the principals confidentially to find out if teachers are armed.
The measure also gives parents the option to move their children out of an armed teacher's class.
"This bill is about giving parents the right to certain information, which I think is critical," Spackman Moss said Friday. "It could mean life or death."
Moss said she grew concerned and heard similar concerns from parents after a mass gun training exercise for teachers was held following the Sandy Hook mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"The potential for an accident, I think, is pretty great," Moss said.
Already, the bill is receiving strong opposition from the gun lobby.
"It's a terrible, terrible idea," said Utah Shooting Sports Council Chair Clark Aposhian. "It's obviously an exercise in ideology that is against people carrying firearms for lawful self-defense."
Aposhian said the measure constitutes a violation of privacy, and there is no guarantee the carrying status of a given teacher will remain confidential.
"If it's for the children, then why should we hold back?" Aposhian quipped sarcastically. "We should also be able to find out those teachers that are on anti-depressant medicines, those that have received speeding tickets, DUIs."
Still, some mothers say they see value in disclosure. Miriam Walkingshaw has a second-grader, and a 4-year-old who attends a public preschool.
"We feel that parents should have a right to choose whether they want (guns) around or not," Walkingshaw said.
Walkingshaw co-founded Utah Parents Against Gun Violence in December after Sandy Hook.
"We know that accidents happen, we know that criminal acts happen," Walkingshaw said.
She acknowledged the measure could also be used by parents to determine which teachers are armed, and then transfer their children into those classes.
The bill was only made public Friday, and Spackman Moss acknowledged she faced an uphill battle with a lot of legislation still on the table for the Republican-controlled Legislature.
"I want people to look at other means of school safety,"Spackman Moss said. "There are a lot of things you can do to ensure safety in schools, and a lot of schools are doing them without arming teachers."